Politics & Government

The activities of nations and states, and the people and organizations who control them.

The Pope, Pills and Pop.

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, People & Culture, Opinion
Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

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So the Pope has been and gone, leaving behind him the opportunity for The Prime Minister to overuse the word "Faith", and attempt to paint himself in a golden light, using the darkness of the previous ruling party as a contrast.  Utter twaddle, in my opinion.

David Cameron has suggested that the Pope asked questions of the UK that would have people 'thinking about our society and how we treat ourselves and each other.' Mr Cameron also went on to say ‘Faith is part of the fabric of our country. It always has been and it always will be. Faith is not a problem for legislators to solve but rather a vital part of our national conversation. And we are proud of that.’ Spin, in fact spin so transparent that it makes Alastair Campbell's statement 'We don’t do God’ seem like it came from an honest person.… Continues …

The Other Ground Zero Controversy

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, People & Culture
Ketua BP MUPEL Bekasi

Image by Viking KARWUR via Flickr

A religious minority decides to build a house of worship in an area considered unacceptable by fringe elements of the religious majority. Although the country professes religious tolerance, and the group has a legal right to build their temple in said area, they are harassed by radicals and ignored by leaders and officials eager to gain political points.

No, it's not the mosque planned for construction in downtown New York, but it's awfully similar. Ground Zero in this case is Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. In the world's most populous Muslim nation, a Christian group is trying to build a church on land which belongs to them. They've been threatened, harassed while worshipping, and physically attacked on their way to services. The mayor has asked them to move, and of course they've refused.… Continues …

The Worst Kind of Free Speech

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, People & Culture
Westboro Baptist Church at the United Nations ...

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The latest media reports indicate that pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida has postponed, but not cancelled, his congregation's planned Qur'an-burning on the anniversary of September 11th, after a phone call from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and condemnation from leaders worldwide.

Unfortunately, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (of "God Hates Fags" infamy) have vowed to carry out the burning if Dove World doesn't do it.

In the meantime, Dove World has had its website taken down by their hosting providers, Interpol has issued a global alert, and some clever folks have created a parody ad mocking Jones and Phelps.… Continues …

Pakistani Military Brass Tossed Off US Flight

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
 This was ...

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Is airport security going too far?

On Sunday night, nine passengers of Pakistani descent were removed from a United Airlines flight to Tampa, Florida, after one of them made a comment that alarmed another passenger. At first blush, this incident doesn't seem particularly unusual. Just another in a long string of incidents involving a careless comment and a slightly overzealous flight crew, right?

Except that the nine passengers were officers in the Pakistani military, on their way to a meeting at the invitation of US Centcom. At the time of writing, most news outlets in the United States were reporting only that "nine foreign-born people" were tossed off a plane. The full story can be had by scouring the international press. Dawn.com, a Pakistani newspaper site, reports that a brigadier traveling with the delegation "had misbehaved with a stewardess and told her that 'this would be her last mission'". The article goes on to say that the delegation was held for hours without a clear explanation of what had prompted their expulsion from the airplane.… Continues …

US Revokes Training Ban for Controversial Indonesian Commando Unit

— Filed under: Politics & Government

One month ago today during a diplomatic visit to Indonesia Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, announced the recession of the US ban on ties with Kopassus, the special forces branch of the Indonesian military.

In 1999, following the implementation of a 1997 law prohibiting the US from training military forces accused of human rights violations, the US severed ties with the Indonesian military. This ban was officially receded in 2005 as a result of perceived good behavior with regard to the Indonesian military’s observation of human rights, yet the ban remained in place for the specialist Commando regiment.

Al Qaeda Afraid That Iran Will Take Over Mecca

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
The Holy Kaaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

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Mecca: Soon to be Iranian?

In case you missed it, Iran went nuclear over the weekend. After decades of waiting, the Islamic republic opened its first nuclear reactor, complete with assurances that it would only be used to provide energy and not to arm warheads. In related news, Iran also broadcast the launch of new surface-to-surface missiles, and announced a host of other new weapons (including a "stealth bomber drone"), most bearing names with religious significance.

Because the Shiite-majority republic has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel, all eyes now shift to the Jewish state. Israel never faced any real repercussions from the botched flotilla raid a few months ago. Might the newly-emboldened nation employ a surgical strike to eliminate Iran's nuclear plant, thus igniting a regional war? Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) certainly think so, and they're getting ready.… Continues …

Confusion Persists About Obama's Religion

— Filed under: Politics & Government

Image by senorglory via Flickr

Latest poll by the Pew Research Center finds that 18% of Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. 43% of Americans claim to not know what his religion is.

In a separate poll by Time magazine and ABT SRBI, 24% of respondents said that Obama is Muslim.

Shocking that this misinformation still persists.… Continues …

A 'Right to Food'

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government
A hungry man is not a free man

To combat rampant hunger among the poor in India, politician Sonia Gandhi is proposing an expansion of the government's food welfare program - to essentially create a constitutional 'right to food'.

Others within the Indian government are suggesting the market should be allowed to play a part in a completely new system of food aid. They argue that the government-run system is inefficient, and prone to corruption and extortion by government officials and moneylenders. Explains Indian economist Bharat Ramaswami:… Continues …

"War Porn" or "Window to Reality"?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government

Not even two weeks after classified documents released by Wikileaks made many people question the validity of the war in Afghanistan, here comes powerful new evidence of something worth fighting for.

A fiery controversy has been stirred up by a magazine cover photo depicting a beautiful young Afghan woman who has had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban. Accompanied by the bold statement "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan", some are now decrying the use of the shocking image as a manipulative effort to convince the public to accept continuing military action. Some are even calling it "war porn" and "Afghansploitation". Priyamvada Gopal at the Guardian says that the magazine cover is an oversimplification which does nothing to help solve a complex problem. According to Gopal, "Feminists have long argued that invoking the condition of women to justify occupation is a cynical ploy, and the Time cover already stands accused of it."

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